Dealing With Depression: Giving Advice

The Islamic faith is not unfamiliar with tests and tribulations. This is the thirteenth in a series of articles on depression according to Islam. It is from the On Demand Course: Mental Health Workshop – An Islamic Guide to Dealing with Depression.

When the other person is ready for it, offer the advice that you can offer. That may be from you or it may be signposting them to those from whom they can get more benefit.

There are many people in need out there. You may be one of those people. If you are, then one of the surefire ways to receive mercy is to give the thing that you think you do not have. Let there be something that you can show love to. Allah says:

ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنُ عَلَى ٱلۡعَرۡشِ ٱسۡتَوَىٰ

“The All-merciful on the Throne did reign Him supreme.” [Quran 20:5; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld] 

Being Judgmental

Be very careful of being judgmental. Having a mental health difficulty does not mean that this person is lacking in faith. In fact, in many cases, it may mean this person has so much faith and tenderness. 

They have such a sensitive soul that they are more hurt by the world from their experiences in life. The problem is that hey just do not know how to process it. They have no defense to other people’s hurt and suffering. This affects them badly. 

When people lay out their life to you, or an aspect of their life to you, they are sometimes opening up something that they may not have told anyone else. It can be an incredible act of courage.

Express mercy, goodness, support and care. Guilt is a major factor in mental health problems. Do not jump in with an immediate answer, or comment.

Listen Carefully

For many, the thing that they will say the first time they talk to you could be a test to make sure they can trust you. The second time it may be a little bit of a test. It could be the third and fourth time they talk to you when the real problem is brought up.

That may be because they themselves do not know what the real problem is. After speaking to you, they may realize there is something that lies behind that is causing the issue and fueling the problem. 

At some point in our lives, we need someone just to listen to us. Someone to allow us to unburden ourselves. Some may need more than that. Those are the people to sign post on for further health and assistance. 

At times, grief is complicated by guilt, resentment, and all sorts of other feelings. A person may have anxiety. A person may experience a psychotic problem. People may be trying to cope with this in a variety of ways. 

Some may try to control how they eat, control their weight and their body image and end up with eating disorders. Others may try to process their grief through unwise relationships, self-harm, anger against others and so forth. 

Alcohol misuse is probably still fairly uncommon in Muslim communities. Drug misuse is not. Drug misuse, self-harm and suicidal ideation are not uncommon as you might think.

Empathy in Relationships

Ask yourself, “If I was in that situation, how would I want someone to approach me?” 

Do not be part of the problem itself. It is a worthwhile thing to think about this and to reflect on it so that you can be effective in what you do when you are trying to help people. 

We are human beings, and we are dealing with human beings. Muslims are not immune to mental health difficulties. What we have is a tremendous resource in our religion.

Help people in a way that is comfortable for them. Makes sense to that person to turn to Allah. Remember that your Lord is there for you. He is aware of the secrets of your heart. Allah says:

هُوَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلَّذِی لَاۤ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ ٱلۡمَلِكُ ٱلۡقُدُّوسُ ٱلسَّلَـٰمُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُ ٱلۡمُهَیۡمِنُ ٱلۡعَزِیزُ ٱلۡجَبَّارُ ٱلۡمُتَكَبِّرُۚ 

سُبۡحَـٰنَ ٱللَّهِ عَمَّا یُشۡرِكُونَ

هُوَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلۡخَـٰلِقُ ٱلۡبَارِئُ ٱلۡمُصَوِّرُۖ لَهُ ٱلۡأَسۡمَاۤءُ ٱلۡحُسۡنَىٰۚ یُسَبِّحُ لَهُۥ مَا فِی ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ ٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۖ وَهُوَ ٱلۡعَزِیزُ ٱلۡحَكِیمُ

“He is Allah whom there is not god besides, the King, the Sacredly Pure, the Source and Perfection of Peace, the All-protecting, the One In Charge of All, the Invincible, the Indomitable Conqueror, the Supreme on High: Glorious is Allah in perfection above all they join with Him in worship! He is Allah, the Creator, the Flawless Originator, the Bestower of Forms, His are the most beautiful names; Everything in the heavens and earth extols His incomparable glory, and He is the Invincible the All-wise.” [Quran, 59:23-24; tr. Keller, Quran Beheld]

He is merciful and compassionate. Praise be to God, thanks be to Allah for His overlooking our sins despite his knowledge of them, and His forgiving of us despite his power to punish us. This is our Lord. 

Try to get this person that you are talking to place their reliance and their faith upon Allah.